Health Conditions Facing Truck Drivers [And Ways To Manage Them]

October 19, 2016 4:09 pm Published by Comment

Truck driving is a rewarding and profitable career that’s essential to our economy. There are many reasons why professionals say it’s the perfect job. However, just like any other job, there are challenges—particularly, health.

Because truck drivers are sitting behind the wheel for long periods of time, health conditions may arise. Fortunately, there are effective treatments and prevention methods. Smith Transport believes healthy living is important, so it’s our goal to provide wellness tips among the trucking industry.

Here are common conditions facing truck drivers and helpful management tips:

Cigarette Smoking

Smoking causes over 440,000 deaths each year – over 135,000 of those are due to smoking-related cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. When you stop using tobacco, you’ll notice immediate benefits including:

  • Healthier looking skin and increased energy for physical activity.
  • More money for other, more useful items.
  • Clean smelling clothes, hair, home, and vehicles.

Quitting is a challenging task – especially if you have smoked for several years. There are many fantastic resources available to help you stop smoking. Resources can be tailored to fit your needs such as guides with helpful tips and contact with support staff. Take a look at these resources:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common sleep disorder facing commercial drivers. OSA causes the upper airway to collapse during sleep, blocking the airway. This deprives the body of oxygen and interrupts sleep, leading to poor quality sleep. One in four commercial drivers may be at risk for moderate to severe OSA. Drivers with OSA may suffer excessive daytime sleepiness, which can impair performance and increase the risk of vehicle accidents.

Risk Factors for OSA: Being overweight or obese, large neck circumference, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking

Symptoms of OSA: Loud snoring, breathing cessation during sleep, morning headaches, difficulty staying asleep, waking abruptly with a dry mouth, sore throat, and shortness of breath

Treatment: The most effective treatment of OSA is nasal positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment. A PAP device delivers a stream of pressurized air to the airway to prevent collapse of the upper airway during sleep. This device prevents or reduces apneas, allowing the person to get a better night’s sleep.

Tips for Managing OSA:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – An improved diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. This can lead to an improvement in your OSA symptoms.
  • Limit alcohol and smoking – Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles and makes it much easier for these muscles to “collapse” and block your airway during sleep. Smoking inflames nasal tissues, which can restrict your nasal airway. Limiting the two can significantly help.
  • Have a power inverter for your PAP – To enable over the road, in–cab PAP use, drivers should look into having a power inverter installed in the cab of the truck.

For more driver fatigue management resources, check out the North American Fatigue Management site.


Mental Health

At some point in our lives, many of us find ourselves in positions where we feel overwhelmed. In fact, each year about 15 million Americans experience depression. Being away from home and on the road can cause stress. Stress, anxiety, and depression can be avoided if those at risk learn to identify the symptoms and are willing to ask for help. This is crucial to maintaining proper mental health, no matter what type of duties or demands you’re undertaking.

The National Institute of Mental Health is a good starting point for learning more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments of depression. They provide information about the types of people and places that will make a referral to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services. Managing good mental health is just as important as physical health!

Whether or not you’ve experienced any of these circumstances, it’s helpful to understand common health conditions facing truck drivers so you can prevent or manage them. You can also spread awareness and help other drivers who may be living with these challenging conditions. Through support, effective treatments and prevention methods, we can all live a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Do you want to be part of an elite fleet and drive equipment that is second to none? It’s time you apply at Smith Transport! Give one of our recruiters a call at 866.265.3718 or take a moment to apply online.

While you’re at it, join the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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